The Wuhan-on-the-Hudson fiasco continues to unfold. They have all of the economic suffering of economic and societal shutdown and all of the exponential growth that was seen in countries that made no effort to “flatten the curve” (ft.com shows New York state actually growing faster than Lombardy during comparable weeks!).
My friends who work in health care there say that some hospitals are fairly quiet while others, just a mile or two away, are packed. There is no mechanism for sending patients who can wait a couple of hours for care to upstate hospitals that are more or less empty, nor even a mechanism for balancing the load among hospitals within New York City. (Let’s not even talk about New Jersey; they’re just as overwhelmed as NYC, but nobody in American media cares if someone in New Jersey dies, even if it is from COVID-19.)
The New York Department of Health has a $88 billion annual budget (see page 45; it is a bit confusing because in some years the “annual budget” really includes two years of Medicaid; you could also say that the real budget is closer to $94 billion because they moved mental health and “addiction services” out). This is partly for public health functions, such as the ones that left the state without any preparations for a flu or flu-like outbreak, and mostly to pay for unlimited procedures to be applied to those with low-income or no income (Medicaid; New York funds a lot of stuff that other states won’t fund and, correspondingly, had less money available for public health).
How much is $88 billion? Mexico spends about $1050 per person on health care. That includes health care for the rich, middle class, and poor. Mexico’s population is roughly 130 million so this works out to about $136 billion. In other words, with only 20 million people, New York spends close to as much on public health and welfare health insurance as Mexico does to care for its entire population, including cosmetic surgery for the richest people in Polanco. (How are the results in the Mexican system? Mexican life expectancy is about one year less than American life expectancy.)
Comparisons between coronavirus and war are common. What if we wanted to have a military force with supersonic fighter jets, nuclear-powered submarines, an aircraft carrier, nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, nearly 1 million active-duty troops, and 2 million reservists? Somewhere around $70 billion is what Russia spends. In other words, New York state spends more for public health and welfare health care than Russia spends to fund what might be the world’s most powerful military (let’s hope that we never find out who is actually the strongest!).
- Suppose that everyone with COVID-19 got a ventilator: “What You Should Know Before You Need a Ventilator” (NYT, by a physician)
- Same newspaper, same day, but by a journalist: “‘Code Blue’: A Brooklyn I.C.U. Fights for Each Life in a Coronavirus Surge” (mostly contradicts the above and implies that an application of massive quantities of medical personnel and machines can save the typical patient seriously afflicted with COVID-19)
- Medicaid spending by state (most recent data is from FY2014; California was spending $4,200/year on a Medicaid enrollee. New York was spending $7,800)
- “Transgender programs flourish following New York Medicaid coverage” (New York taxpayers will fund a gender transition every year (or every month) for those who don’t work)
- NYS Infertility Demonstration Program: “The program subsidizes higher level infertility treatments in vitro fertilization (IVF) and gamete intra fallopian transfer (GIFT) for privately insured women for whom these procedures are not covered by insurance.” (Let’s most ignore the transgender exclusionary language (“women”) here, but remind readers that some men need IVF too!) If you struggle to make ends meet without subsidies, New York taxpayers will pay to generate some additional likely welfare recipients via IVF